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HomeAfrica Cup Of NationsBafana's AFCON Opponents With Mixed Results

Bafana’s AFCON Opponents With Mixed Results

Bafana Bafana’s Group E opponents, Mali and Tunisia had mixed results in Saturday’s warm-up friendlies ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations.

Tunisia are the highest-ranked team in the group, but they struggled to break down world number 105 Mauritania.

The team coached by Jalel Kadri were held to a goalless draw but have a chance to gain more confidence when they face Cape Verde on 10 January.

Meanwhile, Mali ran riot against Guinea-Bissau. The Eagles beat the world number 103 6-2, with six different goal scorers on the night.

Mali were up 2-0 inside 15 minutes thanks to goals by Youssouf Niakate and Lassana Coulibaly, but Guinea-Bissua pulled one back in the 37th minute via Mama Balde.

Mali, though, regained their two-goal lead just three minutes when Kamory Doumbia found the back of the net. In a flurry end to the second half, Guinea Bissua again pounced back and made it 2-3 via Carlos Mane in the 42 minute.

After the break, Mali gained more control of the tie and scored three more goals via Sikou Niakate (68), Falaye Sacko (75) and Lassine Sinayoko (85) to set a marker before the AFCON.

This was Mali’s only warm-up game before their group opener against South Africa on 16 January.

However, a stat that will not be appetizing to South African fans is that – Bafana has never defeated Mali in two previous Africa Cup of Nations meetings.  

They beat Bafana 2-0 when they hosted the same event in 2002 in the quarter-finals with goals by Bassala Toure and a late strike by Dramane Coulibaly. 

As Mali reached the semifinal, they unfortunately lost to winners Cameroon, who beat Senegal in the final. Mali also lost the bronze medal to Nigeria.  

Mali also beat Bafana in the 2013 edition in South Africa at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in the quarter-finals on penalty shootouts.  

Tokelo Rantie took the lead for Bafana in the 31st minute in Durban, bringing the crowd to loud cheers but Mali skipper and inspiration player – Seydou Keita showed his class, scoring in the 58th minute.  

As the game went on penalties in which Gordon Igesund was in charge, Bafana lost 3-1. Dean Furman, May Mahlangu, and Lehlohonolo Major all failed to score from the spot, with Siphiwe Tshabalala scoring the consolation from Mzansi.  

That was the painful ending for Bafana, while Mali’s journey was ended in the semifinal by eventual winners Nigeria at the same venue in Durban.  

Despite Bafana having failed to beat Mali when it matters most, the last time they met they had good memories, winning 2-1 in the annual Nelson Mandela at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in 2019.  

It was the first game for coach Molefi Ntseki, who had replaced Stuart Baxter who had left after Bafana lost to Nigeria in the quarter-finals at the AFCON finals in Egypt in the same year. That was the last time Bafana appeared at the AFCON finals, having missed the previous event in Cameroon last year.

David Kappel
David Kappel
David Kappel has served as a renowned international editor and content manager for almost a decade. David specialises in ensuring content and social media posts are highly engaging for football fans and was previously the international editor at Soccer Laduma. He is currently the iDiski Times website editor and social strategist.